NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — We always think about cops catching criminals with their patrol cars or surveillance video, but what about drones?
For the North Little Rock Police Department, this tool was the reason they caught a criminal on Monday night in the act.
Around 10 p.m., officers were called about two suspects breaking into vehicles around the Walnut area.
While one suspect got away the other continued to run several streets over, the officers had a clear eye on them though, thanks to advanced technology.
It's what Lieutenant Craig Edwards called "a valuable asset."
"It's just really changed some of the ways we can go after suspects," he said.
All it takes is a simple call to air traffic control and then it's lift-off.
According to Lt. Edwards, the North Little Rock Police Department has been using drones for three years.
"We try to deploy as often as we can. We don't get a call for them every day, there's some days we could get two calls that require a drone," he said.
But on Monday night they got that call and a drone helped them catch a criminal breaking into vehicles.
Edwards even heard the phone ring on Tuesday morning with another department asking for help.
"If I had gotten there, I could've launched my drone and sent the drone up to look inside the vehicle because the suspect was not wanting to get out of the car," he said.
Edwards said the speaker allows the department to talk to the criminal while the drone can give officers more information before they arrive at a scene.
"If I can put a drone in the air and fly around I can see what kind of cover, concealment officers would have available for them in an instance of a shoot out or the best way to approach," he said.
From catching suspects to patrolling the community, Edwards said it's another way to keep the city as safe as possible.
"It's not big brother stuff, we aren't flying around looking into people's windows. We use this for public safety and for apprehending suspects," he said.
There are "no-fly zone" areas that the department must follow.
Also, the drone must always be visible to the officer flying it.